Allowing myself to feel vulnerable

Written by Amie on June 13, 2011 – 1:43 am -

My first instinct was to gather my stuff and run out the door

I joined a women’s group a few months ago. I joined because I want to continue to grow and learn more about myself. I also joined because I wanted deeper connection with women who are on a similar path. We have had 5 meetings so far, so we are getting to know each other better, but we don’t know each really well yet.  Yesterday I went to our meeting feeling very positive. We started out just catching up with each other.  Then we listened to a short excerpt from a woman who specializes in attachment theory and bonding. We were about 5 minutes into the talk when I suddenly felt a deep sadness that I have never felt before in my life. I couldn’t stop crying, and I felt scared. The pain I felt in my body went very very deep. My first instinct was to gather my stuff and run out the door.

Feel the Feelings

 

This felt new and scary

Instead I went into another room and just cried. I still didn’t know what I wanted to do; stay and feel vulnerable, or run. A year or so ago, I might have completely shut down by hiding my true emotions. Yesterday I felt so raw with emotion, I couldn’t have shut them off even if I wanted to. I don’t know why I was feeling so raw with emotion. I did have a craniosacral session the night before, but it doesn’t really matter why. The bottom line is, I stayed with my emotions, and I stayed to be with the supportive, accepting women in the group. This felt new and scary. I felt so vulnerable. I have some close people in my life that I can be vulnerable with, but it is still not easy for me. I have to feel completely safe with the people I show myself to. If there is any question as to whether or not I trust them, I shut myself off from connecting any deeper.

The old recordings going through my head

After the talk was over the group was meeting back in a circle to talk about our experience. I could not stop crying. I didn’t want to stop crying, but yet I felt scared to be crying my eyes out in front of everyone. Being vulnerable can be so scary, and we have been conditioned to believe that showing emotion and being vulnerable makes us weak. Many of us have been taught that it is something you do if there is something wrong with you. Even though I felt scared and I wasn’t sure how this whole thing was going to play out, I was able to watch my thoughts. I told myself that I should pull myself together or I would ruin the day for everyone else, I told myself that I was just trying to get attention, I told myself that the other women would think I am crazy, and I asked myself what in the hell is wrong with you. The difference in yesterday vs. a year or two ago is that I didn’t follow those thoughts this time, I just noticed them. I said to myself, wow, look at what I am telling myself, these are some really old recordings showing up in my head. It made me feel so good that I didn’t believe these darn untrue thoughts and beliefs, I was just an observer. This is one of the most important tools we need in order to heal depression. We become an observer of the mind rather than a full believer in the stories and thoughts.

We are supposed to be there for each other

I found out what happens when I decide to stay with my strong emotions rather than try to make them go away or run from them. I felt what it is like to be surrounded by loving people who saw me, accepted me, nurtured me, and listened to me. The best part is that they still want to be my friend, they still want me to be around, and they never once gave any indication that I should stop being who I am! What an incredible gift they gave me, and I gave them. By showing our vulnerability, we make it safer for others to show theirs. We are human, we have emotions, and we are supposed to be there for each other just being a conscious witness. We have been conditioned to believe that if we allow someone to show their emotions and be vulnerable with us, it means we have to do something for them; we have to “fix them”. This is not true at all. People just want to be seen and heard, they want to be validated and told that they matter. Being vulnerable opens up a new line of connection between people. Hiding your vulnerability shuts off your aliveness.

Take a risk and put your foot in the water

I think yesterday’s group was a growth spurt! I felt like a new person after I left. I was very tired, but I felt really good inside. I was still feeling fragile and vulnerable, but it felt good. I now know it is safe to be vulnerable with people I trust. Before yesterday, I had one toe dipped in the water so to speak. This time I took a risk and stuck my whole foot in the water. It is important to risk being vulnerable emotionally with people you trust. It is the only way to grow; to show your true self. The way through depression is to gather as many tools as possible that will assist you becoming alive again. Learning to be vulnerable is a huge step, but it is so very important. I have to reiterate that the people you decide to show your true self to must be trustworthy and you must feel safe with them. Taking a risk can be hard, especially if you have been shut down for a very long time. Take baby steps. Open your heart just a pinch and tell someone something you normally wouldn’t share. Even saying “I love you” to someone you think already knows it. If you don’t normally let yourself say that to the person, try it this one time. But only if you feel safe and you trust the person enough.

You are loved…….you are perfect just as you are….there is nobody else in the world who is just like you……what you have to say and what you feel is important to the world…….be gentle with yourself……xoxoxoxoxo to you all.

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Learning to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable

Written by Amie on June 10, 2011 – 3:21 pm -

Don’t believe everything you think

Just wanted to touch on this subject because it is alive in me right now. Trying to feel comfortable with the feeling of being uncomfortable is tricky. I never really looked at emotions and feelings from this perspective. I am familiar with avoiding feelings and with trying to push them away for sure. Awareness has helped me see this in a new light. Before I was aware of my thoughts and feelings, I didn’t know I was causing myself more suffering by trying to make my feelings go away. It was just the way I learned to do things. Avoid feeling at all costs. But more recently I have become aware of not wanting to feel uncomfortable. I want to allow my emotions (all of them), but I don’t like being uncomfortable! Catch 22? Yep. I guess just another way of avoiding feeling? Probably. I know that in the past, depression would sweep me away in the swirl of yuckiness. I did not want to feel uncomfortable. Not one bit. But what I didn’t see then was that by attempting to avoid the uncomfortable feelings of depression, I was prolonging the depression. Why would I, or anyone, choose to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable? It is all about allowing *all* emotions. They are all the same thing; they are waves of feelings moving through our bodies. What changes the whole experience is *what we tell ourselves* about those waves.

Keeping yourself stuck in depression

This is tough to learn. I struggle with it without a doubt. I can sit and be with my emotions for a short time but then here comes a thought about what I am feeling. The unnecessary commentary about *why* I am feeling this or that. It is this pattern that gets us in trouble, and keeps us stuck in our feelings of misery. Remember the last post I wrote about believing the stories we tell ourselves? This is what I am talking about. The key for me has been to focus on the feelings in my body instead of the thoughts and stories I am telling myself about my situation. After all, it is the body that stores all of these emotions. The body knows how you feel, and will hold onto everything unless you allow the emotions to flow through.

Checking in with body sensations rather than thoughts

So, I go back to, “what am I feeling in my body?”; “Where do I feel a physical sensation?”; “I feel a tightness in my stomach”; “I feel an ache in my chest”. Once I have named everything I feel, I check in with my body again to see if any of the sensations have lessened. If they haven’t, I go through the process again. If there is a sensation that is very strong, I ask it what it wants to tell me. **if I hear things that sound like the usual stories, such as “I shouldn’t feel this way”, or “she is being a jerk”, I start over because these are not feelings, they are judgments. Very different. A feeling would be more along the lines of “I am sad”, “I am disappointed”, etc. I stay with this until there is nothing else that comes to mind. Then I go through the body check again to see how the sensations have lessened. I might have to do this more than once, because sometimes there are layers upon layers.

All emotions are important

So I am learning to be comfortable with feeling uncomfortable. It is a new thing for us all. We have been conditioned to avoid feeling anything that isn’t happy. We have learned that the darker emotions are somehow bad. They aren’t! They are here to help us grow and learn about ourselves. Emotions are emotions. We have been conditioned to believe the stories in our heads, the negative stories that tell us depression is a terrible thing, and that something is wrong with you if you are depressed. I am not saying depression isn’t horrible, it feels worse than horrible when in the thick of it. I went through years of it. But, it took me so long to see that emotions are not bad-the stories we tell ourselves are. Learning to be comfortable in my own skin includes being uncomfortable at times. Learning to just BE…..with whatever emotions come up is the key to growth.  Most importantly, be gentle with yourself as you are learning this. Years and years of beating ourselves up takes it’s toll. It is time to love and accept yourself exactly as you are…….perfect. All emotions are important. The stories we tell ourselves only keep us stuck in depression. Become aware of your stories……and then let them go. They are not who you are, and they are not true.

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